Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fathers' Day 2017 reflections

Greetings to my loyal blog readers as well as to those who are stumbling across my blog or this post for the first time. Today I am particularly motivated to post because of receiving encouragement both from secular readings and a sermon to embrace who I am and to share. Today's post is a reflection that also celebrates fathers and encourages fathers to embrace and share their emotions and even the emotional challenges they face as they father in the 21st century.

Going to church on June 17, 2017 with my children was indeed an emotional experience, as I woke up with the accuser of brethren attacking me for my fertility and trying to persuade me to sterilize. My economic and career struggles were raised before me, and the only defense I had was that one day I would see the fruit of all the struggles, and if not in this life, in the life to come. The accuser of the brethren then attacked my faith by telling me that Jesus has not returned yet and that he even declared that some of his disciples would not taste death until he returned (Matthew 16:28). This, the accuser said, did not come to pass as all the known disciples of Jesus at the time have perished and the world has gone on since. In fact, the accuser then said, by the scriptures, God said we know if a prophet is true if what he foretells comes to pass (Deuteronomy 18:22). This would then make Jesus a false prophet. In silence, I endured the accuser's torment with my only defense being that I did not know what was referred to when Jesus said he would come into his kingdom in that verse.

When I arrived, after taking my four children on the bus, I thought to myself how the culture and era discouraged parents from having children and rather encouraged them to focus on their careers or vocation. Society speaks saying that  "Thou shalt have children but only if you have 2 and no more and only if you have the resources and career to support them. Anything outside of this is forbidden." Further, society invokes another law that "Thous shalt use intrusive technologies and man-made devices to curtail your fertility so that you can dive down into your career and supply your family with abundant material things and meet their economic wants".

Twenty-first century's culture encourages men and fathers to give more to their jobs than they do to their families. Especially in Jamaican culture, where even the place where I work does not have paternity leave. But as I meditate on the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, I realize that God wants me as a father to play more than just an economic role. God wants me to play a teaching and educational role, supplying my children with home education and traditions where I transmit my values, knowledge, and experiences to them. A case in point is Solomon, who I feel had a lot of his wisdom coming from what his father, David, passed on to him and not just from his answered prayer. When I read the book of Proverbs I hear Solomon telling me to pay careful attention to fatherly instruction (Proverbs 1:8). Which I somehow feel that it is David's instruction to Solomon that guided him in making early decisions (1 Kings 2) before the wise decision to ask God for wisdom later on (1 Kings 3).

As I listened to the sermon, Elder Cameron Munro, who served as God's mouthpiece, got me to reflect on instances where Jesus stated and expressed how he felt. The message to me was clear. Be real about my predicament. It is okay for me as a father and a man to state how I feel. There are times and seasons for me as a father to be emotional, cry, embrace my children and communicate my emotions to them. Jesus did this and modeled this for us. He wept and expressed his emotions. He even told people when he was thirsty and needed a drink (despite participating in the creation, according to Colossians 1:15-16, and being able to work miracles including turning water into wine). Imagine, Jesus the miracle worker, made his need for water known to human beings? 

Elder Munro stated that Jesus put on humanity so that we do not have to put on pretense. We don't always, as men or fathers, need to pretend that we are tough and that we have everything under control. But we can be honest when we are going through difficulties and share this with others around us including our children.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Decline in democratic ideals? My thoughts on the world today

So 2017 has started and I am increasingly concerned about the global milieu in which the world seem less into the fundamental democratic values that I hold dear: which is the freedom of information and expression. It seems to me an era where democracies are selectively adopting from authoritarian regimes and authoritarian regimes are adopting some of the veneers of democracy selectively. In this world, I cannot tell the difference between China and Germany, Russia and the West.

There is in the current climate and atmosphere the expressed view that ideas are not equal and that not all ideas and information should be expressed and disseminated. I am increasingly seeing the frightening notion being expressed that not all views and perspectives must be given a platform for expression.

In the past, in a neo-liberally dominated democracy, the argument was that market mechanisms should guide society in sifting out the best ideas by rewarding them financially and even politically. Today, I am concerned when I see journalistic articles in the democratic and liberal West that argue that we need educated elite gatekeepers and experts to take over from market mechanisms (including Facebook and Google algorithms) in determining access to ideas and information. For me, we need the perspectives of experts and expertise but most importantly, we also need empowered users and consumer of information to do the work of determining their access to information themselves. Educated elites and experts are not always right. And political systems run by the rule of educated elite (the Platonic Republic) has historically led to Soviet Union like Communism with an intelligentsia that repress minorities and others with dissenting or alternative perspectives and viewpoints. Such political systems give power to an educated elite to dictate and determine what people should feel, say or think.

While I personally do not find all perspectives equal and have found some types of ideas too distasteful to read or consume, I value people's freedom to create, disseminate, and access those ideas. God created a world [I know some of us disagree about this] with different types of human beings with different flavours of perspectives and experiences. All such flavours of perspectives are important. No human being should feel that the entire world does not value their uniqueness or their unique perspective, voice or story.

I personally value perspectives from both the left and right wing political spectrum. I also value the need to access both perspectives in order for balanced and good decision decision making for all human beings. Let us hear from all angles and then compromise so that together we can have a just society.